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Ultra Fast Disk Drives With No Moving Parts

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the shake-it-all-you-want dept.

Data Storage 530

saccade.com writes "Let's face it, the slowest part of PC's today is the disk drive. Bit Micro has come up with a nifty solution - flash memory based disk drives available in typical disk form-factors. These e-disks are electrically compatible with ATA, SCSI, etc. but run orders of magnitude faster - access times down to 40 usec and transfer rates over 100 MB/sec. What's the catch? Cost. Currently going for just under $1K/G, a 30G model I recently held in my hand was worth much more than my car. However, as flash memory prices drop, so do the price of these drives. Within the decade the spinning hard disk may go the way of the floppy and CRT."

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Not that new. (5, Informative)

Oculus Habent (562837) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979801)

This isn't exactly new [google.com] . They've come down substantially in price and gone up in volume, but these have been around for years. It is my understanding that the most significant use was (is?) laptop drives for extremely rugged, shock-resistant portables.

Re:Not that new. (4, Interesting)

Nos. (179609) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979828)

Maybe not, but if they start going a little bit mainstream, we'll start to see the cost go down. I know I've thought about using some sort of flash device for my boot drive just to have extremely fast boots.

Re:Not that new. (3, Insightful)

essreenim (647659) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979874)

$1K/G,
Just SAY IT - a whooping 1,000 $ for 1 crappy GB! No thanks I'll stick with my s-ata, and if that gives me any more issues, I'll get rid of that too, and use IDE

Re:Not that new. (4, Insightful)

bsd4me (759597) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979875)

They also have industrial uses. They get used in places where the gyroscopic effect of a normal drive would be undesirable, or the vibration caused is undesirable.

Personally, I don't think the price will come down that much. FLASH devices (the actual chips) are used in a ton of places. In the past there have been shortages of the devices, and IIRC the cell phone manufacurers are the largest buyers of them.

Re:Not that new. (4, Insightful)

bstone (145356) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979889)

I thought the problem with flash was a limited number of write cycles (10,000-100,000?). With this thing rated at up to 25,000 IOPS, is would seem that they might not last all that long (4 seconds?). I don't see any indication of some breakthrough in flash memory itself.

Also, what's so different from this and just using a standard CF card? You can get 1GB of CF for under $150. It should be fairly simple to put together a "CF-raid" drive for way less than $1K/GB.

Re:Not that new. (1)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979975)

It should be fairly simple to put together a "CF-raid" drive for way less than $1K/GB.

But then it's not going to fit into a hard drive form factor, and use a single plain old IDE interface, is it? I'm sure that's worth the extra cost to some people.

XP booted from a Flash Drive (2, Informative)

Soskywalkr (617860) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979892)

This Canadian retailer: http://www.go-l.com [go-l.com] has Windows XP pre-installed on an in-house flash drive. From what I gather, it boots VERY quickly. AND Yes, the LCD panel on the case is quite sexy. Aye.

PuRAM (2, Informative)

Soskywalkr (617860) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979943)

Pu RAM [go-l.com] And sorry, they're a California-based company, not Canadian. Drat.

Re:Not that new. (4, Informative)

jtshaw (398319) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979974)

Your right, these aren't new. A company I worked for used them on computers that were controlling a train a few years back.

One thing worth noting.... flash parts don't last forever. If you write to the disk constantly it will die in a lot less time then the average standard magnetic hard drive.

However, reading doesn't inflict the wear so feel free to read all you want from your flash part...

FP (1, Funny)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979803)

LOL. When I loaded the page, it read "Nothing to see here, please move along."

Re:FP (2, Insightful)

Gigahertz (768208) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979826)

It should still say that, since theres nothing new or interesting about a $30,000 bullshit drive that stores less data than hard drives sold with computers more than 5 years ago....

Re:FP (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979970)

I've been getting that a lot lately. I think there's something wrong with the story posting mechanism so that it updates the front page, and then takes about 2-3 minutes to create the story pages.

Is this an ad? Or what? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979805)

Because I'm pretty sure most of us were aware of high cost flash media disks.

Uh... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979812)

Isn't an ultra-fast, no-moving-parts hard disk called a soft disk? You know, ROMs and memory and all that stuff.

Quality? (3, Interesting)

nial-in-a-box (588883) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979813)

I wonder how long you can beat at a device like this in a server environment before it croaks. I'd give it no more than a year life expectancy, but hey, I'm feeling pessimistic.

Re:Quality? (1)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979927)

Well, the RAM in your computer works on a similar principle and tolerates an absolute shitload more reads and writes in its lifetime than your hard disk will. And in my experience a hard disk is WAY more likely to fail due to usage than RAM, which tends to either break straight away (i.e. manufacturing defect) or live forever, relatively.

Re:Quality? (1)

MarkEst1973 (769601) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979935)

I wonder how long you can beat at a device like this in a server environment before it croaks. I'd give it no more than a year life expectancy, but hey, I'm feeling pessimistic.

You got modded to +3 without giving a single reason why you think it would croak in a server environment, and here I am not using my mod points on this discussion because I feel the need to ask you to elaborate.

Re:Quality? (2, Interesting)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979972)

The whole point of this device is to eliminate moving parts from the equation. I've only had one hard drive failure in the last three years on any of my servers. For the most part, all the disk problems are related to the wear and tear on moving parts.

Get rid of the moving parts, and I'd expect more life expectancy. Not less.

End User upgradable (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979814)

I need an EE to build an ata interface to a raid series of about 100 flash either (SD or compact). Now allow the end user to plug in how many cards he wishes and just use them. Imaging that if you have a raid 5 setup of say 128 256mb cards costing about $40 each would cost about $5000 1/6th of the $30k and it is end user upgraded and so cool to be able to ad more storage instead of rebuilding a whole computer and drive.

Re:End User upgradable (1, Funny)

Oculus Habent (562837) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979855)

I was thinking of rackmounted USB 2.0 hubs, with dozens of USB flash drives... You could call them "Isolinear chips" :)

Then I realized that so many devices on a single USB bus would run like crap.

Re:End User upgradable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979942)

That might look like HAL's memory bank from 2001. I think that would be pretty cool.

Re:End User upgradable (1)

British (51765) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979986)

Might run like crap, but it would be a Treekkie dream to have a bunch of thumb drives in an array as such. Then you just need to get a drunk Asian man to take them all out and play with them like in the ST:TNG episode "Naked Now". Having an android put them back in the right order really fast(looked like it was filmed backwards) will cost extra.

Re:End User upgradable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9980022)

Firewire?

Re:End User upgradable (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 10 years ago | (#9980019)

It would run terribly slow, as you'd have to figure out a way to link all those cards together, and link them to the motherboard (and the cards aren't too snappy themselves, either).

Cool, though :)

Life time? (2, Insightful)

otisg (92803) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979816)

I thought Flash memory suffered from a limited/short life time, that you could read/write to it only so many times, after which you can pretty much say bye-bye to your memory. How are these disks going to work then?

Yet again (4, Insightful)

gottschalk (100576) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979820)

SSD (Solid State Disk) has been around for over 30 years. Every so often it is billed as the "spinning-rust"-killer which has yet to be borne out. It's a great idea but so far rotating media has managed to improve enough to make SSD uneconomical.

News? (1, Interesting)

neonstz (79215) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979821)

Flash disks. They've been around for quite a while, why do a slashdot story now?

Re:News? (1, Funny)

CrazyGringo (672487) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979869)

Because these are bigger and, uh, really expensive?

Re:News? (-1, Redundant)

neonstz (79215) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979948)

Because these are bigger and, uh, really expensive?

I'm not sure if you're trying to be funny or not, but large flash disks has always been expensive. I've also had an disk that was more expensive than a car in my hand, but that one was "only" 3 GB. (3,5" SCSI)

write cycles (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979822)

yeah right - or write to be more exact: flash is not durable as far as number of write cycles are concerned, its not designed for continuous disk activity such as the one which happens with swaps.

Re:write cycles (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979998)

its not designed for continuous disk activity such as the one which happens with swaps.

But, lets face it, you'd have to be dumb to set up a system that swaps onto a device that's more expensive per Gb than RAM.

Limited lifetime? (4, Informative)

Tet (2721) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979824)

The problem with this is the lifetime of flash memory. Typical flash memory is only guaranteed for around 10,000 erase/rewrite cycles. A normal desktop machine with a standard filesystem will reach that very quickly. In order to ensure you reach even that low target, you'd need to use a wear levelling filesystem, which is somewhat less efficient than a convention filesystem, and that goes some way towards reducing the speed benefits you get from flash devices, and the shorter lifespan rules them out for many uses. Don't get me wrong, flash based drives like this certainly have their place, but (at least for now), they're not ready to replace conventional hard drives for mainstream use.

Within the decade the spinning hard disk may go the way of the floppy and CRT

As an aside, my CRT is still firmly wedded to my desktop, and won't budge until flat screen technology has caught up. It's come a long way, and may be good enough for less demanding applications, but it's got a way to go before I have a flat screen on my desk...

Re:Limited lifetime? (2, Informative)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979878)

Gotta agree about the CRT - and one nice development is that since flat screens are all the rage, CRT prices have plummeted...

Raid? (1)

gninnor (792931) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979940)

Everything has a limited life time, my question is what will the long term life be? If you had many small flash devices set up as raid, would it be cost effective to just replace the bad sectors without having to lose the entire "drive"? Could this actually be more reliable?

Re:Limited lifetime? (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979990)

As an aside, my CRT is still firmly wedded to my desktop, and won't budge until flat screen technology has caught up.

Agreed. I have a 21" TFT at work that does 1600x1200, and don't get me wrong, it's gorgeous. I'm currently looking at getting a new monitor for my home machine, though, and I'm not even considering a TFT:

* they're so much more expensive - I can get a decent 19" CRT for less than the price of a 17" TFT
* I do a lot of gaming, and I'm not convinced that any TFT I can afford is up to the task

A pity, really, as the smaller footprint, sleeker looks and reduced energy consumption do make TFTs attractive.

OT: Your Sig (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9980017)

Just read the RH bug report link in your sig.

I'm truly astonished.

Good luck with getting it fixed (if indeed the bug is yours).

Re:Limited lifetime? (1)

Rallion (711805) | more than 10 years ago | (#9980021)

Not only do I agree with the point about the CRT (I am NOT spending $250 for a monitor when I can get a bigger and better-looking screen for half that) I also have to point out that I just bought a new motherboard and the SATA drivers came on a floppy. As they tend to do.

Wouldn't it be cheaper... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979831)

...to store data by etching bits with a stylus into Faberge Eggs.

I prefer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979920)

To hire monks to write 0's and 1's into countless books.

Floppies are dead? (5, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979832)

Within the decade the spinning hard disk may go the way of the floppy and CRT."

Are we done yet with the whole 'floppies are dead' stories? I regularly use floppies because it's easier to plop in a floppy, copy one file and pop out the floppy than it is to put in a USB drive, wait for your pc to recognize it (don't know about Macs), copy the file then have to correctly disconnect the USB drive

What about those machines which don't have USB drives or who aren't on a network? What then? Floppies will be around much longer than anyone thinks and for good reason.

Re:Floppies are dead? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979903)

As with a lot of things in the IT world its nothing to do with whether people use or want them or not , its to do with the manufacturers wanting to save money not including them and the IT press only wanting to talk about the latest "kool kit". Floppies cost money and arn't cutting edge so as far as the above 2 groups are concerned you can go hang. I agree though , they're damn useful.

Yes, floppies are dead. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979921)

What about those machines which don't have USB drives or who aren't on a network? What then? Floppies will be around much longer than anyone thinks and for good reason.

What about those machines which don't have floppies?

Seriously, I haven't put a floppy into a machine in the last 6 years. They're totally unnecessary nowadays. They're about useless for transporting documents for the simple reason that the majority of useful documents exceed the size of the floppy nowadays.

And USB drives are much cooler than you seem to make them out to be. Plug the thing into the USB connector in the front, it mounts, you copy, you unplug the thing. Yes, you might have to wait a second or two for it to recognize and mount the thing, but that's better than waiting for at least 90 seconds to copy 1.4 meg to the slow-as-hell floppy.

Floppies once had limited usefulness as being the only easy way to bootstrap the system. Boot from the floppy, format the hard drive, install the OS. Now that every mobo can do CD booting, I no longer need boot floppies, as I can have boot CD's instead.

Re:Floppies are dead? (1)

tomee (792877) | more than 10 years ago | (#9980013)

To me it is much easier to stick in the USB stick and copy stuff than it is to turn off the computer, open it, attach the floppy drive, boot the computer, find a disk (that works), copy part 1 of a multipart archive, turn off my computer, detach the floppy, turn off the other computer, attach...........

Funny (4, Funny)

drix (4602) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979838)

And here I thought you had to pay to run an ad on Slashdot...

Re:Funny (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979936)

You're new here, aren't you?

Whats a 1K/G? (2, Funny)

wamatt (782485) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979851)

Seriously fella, no gangster TLA speak, just give it to me straight :)

Re:Whats a 1K/G? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979917)

Thousand dollars per gigabyte.

I thought it was a pretty straightforward abbreviation, especially in its context.

Re:Whats a 1K/G? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979937)

It took me a couple seconds to decipher it. If he'd used $1000/G or $1K/Gig it would've been more understandable.

Cheap Car (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979985)

At first I just thought he had a really cheap car!!!

"Currently going for just under $1K/G, a 30G model I recently held in my hand was worth much more than my car."

Re:Whats a 1K/G? (1)

JohnGrahamCumming (684871) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979968)

That's the current street price of heroin measured in grams.

John.

Re:Whats a 1K/G? (1)

The_Mr_Flibble (738358) | more than 10 years ago | (#9980000)

Hah I read that as "whats a IKG" Scary.

Man, the Bottleneck (4, Insightful)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979852)

The slowest part of PC's today is the disk drive.

No, the slowest part of PC's today is the user interface. The rate at which a user enters data (via keyboard/mouse) is a fraction of the rate at which a user thinks. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)

-kgj

Re:Man, the Bottleneck (2, Funny)

repvik (96666) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979928)

ManI write sooooo muhc fastr then think!

Re:Man, the Bottleneck (4, Funny)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979939)

Some users seem to enter data orders of magnitude faster than they think.

Re:Man, the Bottleneck (2, Insightful)

Lispy (136512) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979951)

Depends on the human. Usually I think "open Openoffice.org", then I click (within the same second) and then I wait 18-20 seconds until I can start typing. Sorry, but the HD is by far the bottleneck.

Re:Man, the Bottleneck (1)

ShavenYak (252902) | more than 10 years ago | (#9980001)

No, OO.org is the bottleneck. Even the hideously bloated Word 2003 takes less than five seconds from clicking the icon in the Start menu to being ready to type. And my computer is not state-of-the-art... my disk is a relatively modest Maxtor 30GB ATA-66 drive.

Besides, it takes less time to think "Open Word" than "Open OpenOffice.org"! :)

first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979856)

first

Nothing happening then. (5, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979859)

Within the decade the spinning hard disk may go the way of the floppy and CRT.

You mean it'll still be the default option on most new PCs and in use by ~90% of PC users?

Re:Nothing happening then. (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979987)

I haven't used a floppy disk all year. Mostly I use my iRiver iHP-120 [iriveramerica.com] as a portable storage device, when I can't just jack into the ethernet hub that all my friends have in their living rooms.

Re:Nothing happening then. (2, Insightful)

sckeener (137243) | more than 10 years ago | (#9980024)

Within the decade the spinning hard disk may go the way of the floppy and CRT.

You mean it'll still be the default option on most new PCs and in use by ~90% of PC users?


awwww...I was going to say that, but with more blood dripping evil sarcasm.

I still wonder why we can't move away from floppies. I mean we made the switch from 5.25 to 3.5. The only thing I see taking the floppies place right now is the cdburner and there are so many limitations to that media. I've got floppies from the early 90s that I still read/write to....I don't use cds that way.

Famous eternal predictions (2, Insightful)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979860)

Within the decade the spinning hard disk may go the way of the floppy and CRT

For how many decades now has this been predicted? Holographic memory, battery backed RAM, yada yada yada. Methinks rotating storage will be around for more than the rest of the decade.

shhh dont mention the disks lifetime (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979862)


100,000 writes isn't gonna last long in todays bandwidth intensive video/mp3 world

no moving parts and non-magnetic media is a worthy goal but until we can cure terrible storage lifetimes they wont be much use if i have to worry about the mess backups of backups, as we know from sci-fi all it takes is a big EM burst from the sun and everything you and i have done is gone !
future generations will look back at us and say "they used to store it on WHAT !?"

WHy not integrate with the motherboard then? (5, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979863)

The reason hard disks etc are seperate devices is because they have mechanical parts that require motors etc to work. If this is going to be replaced by memory chips then why not just integrate the whole lot on the motherboard as just another plug in memory module? Why make it slower by passing it through SCSI or ATA not to mention the extra cost of including the interface electronics?

Re:WHy not integrate with the motherboard then? (1)

cornjones (33009) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979976)

why not just integrate the whole lot on the motherboard as just another plug in memory module

As the tech becomes more commonplace they probably will do this. The big advantage to making the interface SCSI or SATA is ease of adoption. W/ the same interface, it becomes just a fancier new drive w/ better specs. W/o the interface it becomes something that requires a decision to design your machine differently.

RAMdisk solution (3, Interesting)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979867)

I've always found the best way to deal with the problem of slow disks is to max out the memory in the PC and use a hefty chunk of it as a RAM disk. When done or needing to backup, tarball the whole disk, write it once to the hard drive.

Of course, this assumes you're working on a stable OS with decent tools and good memory management. If you're not, you can be. :)

Er... (1)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979868)

Within the decade the spinning hard disk may go the way of the floppy and CRT.

You mean cheaper and more popular despite there being better alternatives?

Write cycle? (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979870)

I thought flash memory could be written to fewer times before failure than magnetic media? If so, how will it effectively replace a hard disk in general computing?

Just what I need. (1)

freeze128 (544774) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979871)

Over the last 2 weeks, we have had 6 hard disks go bad in workstation PCs. The PCs are kinda old, but they meet our needs. Each workstation drive is about 6.4 Gigs. It's getting harder and harder to find new replacement drives for these machines. It's a shame to put a 40GB drive in a workstation that is just going to use a fraction of it. I had hoped that the technology would improve for flash devices that would allow a 6.4 GB flash drive that would just plug into an ATA controller. It certainly would make the workstations more quiet.

Re:Just what I need. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979953)

Ironic because 40 gig driver are fairly quiet compared to your old drives.

Re:Just what I need. (1)

gottschalk (100576) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979955)

Right, and you are willing to pay a few thousand dollars per workstation to keep them quiet.

Flash memory not ideal? (-1, Redundant)

ricky-road-flats (770129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979873)

Doesn't flash memory only work reliably for a few thousand or tens of thousands of cycles, or is this a new kind? (Just starting to RTFA)

If not, it could get worn out very quickly - exceptionally good stuff for a read-only database, for example, but not so good for OLTP or other situations where you're changing data a lot.

Maybe I'll have more of a clue after reading TFA.

What about disk prices? (4, Insightful)

jesup (8690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979880)

This "disk drives will be obsolete" assumes that disk drive prices are flat. Drive prices are one of the few things that has (if anything) beaten Moore's Law. Eventually they'll probably flatten out - but not yet. The "death knell of rotating media" has been sounded more times than I can remember. Anyone remember the front-page stories that by late 80's bubble memory would have replaced hard disks? :-)

Re:What about disk prices? (1)

jesup (8690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979910)

Sheesh, that'll teach me to post without preview before 10am.

Problem with number of writes. (5, Interesting)

spiff42 (718678) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979894)

I wonder if they have solved the problems with a limited number of writes to flash memory. Most flash-chips only have a 1000 or 10000 cycle write endurance. Sometimes this gets higher because virtual pages are used and the data shuffeled arround on the "disk" each time it is written. But that will still cause problems if you fill up the disk, say 90%, and then keep writing and rewriting the remaining 10%.

I know that 10000 writes seems like a lot, and perhaps it is. Anyone knows how this figure looks for normal harddrives?

Still it seems to me that the limited number of writes sets the biggest limitation.

/spiff

Re:Problem with number of writes. (1)

Papineau (527159) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979960)

I know that 10000 writes seems like a lot, and perhaps it is. Anyone knows how this figure looks for normal harddrives?

That's 10000 writes to the same sector. Some will see a lot more activities than others (typically filesystem data). I recall some story about somebody formatting a Flash card in FAT32 and busting the card each time (because the format utility wrote the info for one sector, then the next one, then yet the next one, which wrote a couple hundred thousand times to the same sector). That's why Flash cards have some special filesystems developed for them, which takes this into account (ie, the filesystem data moves from one write to the other one, so it's not always written at the same place).

floppy (2, Interesting)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979895)

I did an embedded application with a flash disk which emulated a floppy. In the autoexec: create RAM disk, copy whole sheboodle, run from ramdisk. Without this the device only lasted 2 years. Can't see you do that with XP on a 10 gig drive though... I guess it would be good for a non-dynamic server. Host all the Slashdot logo's on one?

And here I thought... (1)

Papineau (527159) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979907)

... that the slowest part of a PC was the CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive. Seems either I didn't follow the latest PC development, or somebody didn't think much before typing.

Re:And here I thought... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979980)

The floppy drive is still slower.

CRT Dead??? (-1, Offtopic)

DeDmeTe (678464) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979908)

No way. LCD's still have a way to go (in both cost and performance) before they replace my 17" CRT.

filesystems (1)

onesandzeros (445024) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979909)

The filesystems we use now on standard spinning disk HDs, how dependent are those fses on the disk itself? That is, the performance characteristics of reiser vs ext vs xfs etc... if these filesystems were to be on a different type of storage mechanism, how would their performance change? Will a change in this area of hardware also necessitate a change in filesystems?

Cost? (1)

oasis3582 (698323) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979912)

Why is this so expensive when memory sticks are so much cheaper than this? And also, why support legacy form factors (I know, I know for compatibility) rather than innovate by taking advantage of small sizes flash memory can offer?

How reliable? (2, Informative)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979913)

Flash devices only have a read/write cycle of a few hundred thousand. Sounds like a lot, until you realize that the file table gets written to at least that much within a year of use. I'd go for a battery-backed SDRAM array, say PC-133-ECC. Pricewatch has 1GB sticks for $160. That's 10GB of ultra-high speed storage for $1600. Add a couple hundred for a memory and SCSI controller, a few batteries, and you're golden.

Duh? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979915)

What's the news here?

Hard disks are slow. The worst slowdown comes from seek times. Flash memory has no moving parts, hence no seek time. Flash memory is small. You can put many modules in one 3.5" case, make them all work in paralel, and achieve high throughput. Attach an IDE or SCSI or what-have-you controller, and presto, compatibility. This has been done for years.

Drawbacks: flash memory is expensive. Flash memory dies after so many (say, 100,000) erase cycles (one erase cycle each time a cell is written). A typical setup will kill the cells pretty quickly, due mostly to atime updates.

To the rescue: Linux allows you to build a reasonable complete and user-friendly system in a few hundred MB. Linux provides filesystems specifically designed to spare limited-rewrite media.

dreaming (-1, Offtopic)

Numinous83 (716619) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979934)

I was just dreaming about this last night.

Can Slashdot read my dreams?

Re:dreaming (1)

Lispy (136512) | more than 10 years ago | (#9980027)

In soviet russia your dreams read slashdot.

Maybe you should get out more? ;-)

Ah! (2, Funny)

manavendra (688020) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979947)

But will they still be called hard drives?

Always beware of "X is dead!" in the media (5, Insightful)

dmccarty (152630) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979954)

Within the decade the spinning hard disk may go the way of the floppy and CRT.

Within the decade the spinning hard disk may be capable of holding terabytes, or even petabytes, on a single platter. And it will be orders of magnitude cheaper than solid state storage as we know it. I doubt that hard drives will go the way of the dodo anytime soon.

Just as a comparison, look at how many backup solutions still use tape media (and use it very effectively and cheaply, I might add).

Nah...The Slowest Part Is The... (3, Interesting)

reallocate (142797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979956)

...printer.

Technically, a printer is a peripheral, not a part. Whatever. All printers are evil: Too slow, too big, too expensive, too quirky. Ackk.

The problem with hard drives (5, Insightful)

NeoFunk (654048) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979964)

Sure, hard drives are slow, but that's not my main problem with them. They *are* a bottleneck, but since most applications get the hard disk access "out of the way" at the very beginning and load everything they need into RAM, I could deal with slow hard drive technology for the rest of the forseeable future, if only...

... they were reliable. Hard drives are the only PC components that have ever died on me. Actually, that's not quite true - I had a CD-rom die once, and a few fans here and there; what do all these have in common? Mechanical parts. And when it comes down to it, what do most users value most in their computers? The files on their hard drives. Spinning death traps is what they are. Spinning, clicking, grinding death traps.

I don't know much about flash memory technology or the reliability associated with it. I don't give a hoot how fast it is. If it's solid state (no moving parts) and can guarantee me it won't one day decide to utterly destroy itself, I'm sold.

Use proper fractions! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979969)

$1K/G = $1/K.

Or 0.1 cents per byte. Yeouch.

Re:Use proper fractions! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9979997)

My dad's told me about when memory used to be a buck a K. That was like... 25 years ago though.

2 Problems (2, Informative)

saider (177166) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979977)

1) By the time storage size is adequate to hold today's OS's, the OS's will have grown because magnetic disks offer so much more space. In other words, you can take a 512MB flash drive and boot up an older OS (like Win9x).

2) Flash has a limited amount of Read/Write cycles per cell. Don't put a database on that drive! I know there are algorithms that can minimize this, but the limitation is still there.

For more speed (1)

tod_miller (792541) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979983)

http://www.cenatek.com/product_rocketdrive.cfm

I didn't realise that flash drives could in fact be as fast as a RAID array? Well you can even raid these rocket drives. Basically a disk controller interface to gigs of ram.

Of course, tend to hate being turned off, but you can always have a UPS to stream everything to a raid array afterwards...

Where flash is going (4, Informative)

bigberk (547360) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979994)

First of all, the technology used in a product like this is not radically different from existing flash solutions. The big problems are cost and limited use -- flash memory (transistors with high voltage-forced states) can only be toggled a limited number of times. So there is a limited number of write cycles for the faster types of non-volatile solid state memories.

That problem can be reduced by padding devices with large amounts of RAM (write caching). But the breakthrough is coming soon, with new flash technologies that are better designed for continual writes (without compromising speed). From what I've read in IEEE Spectrum, the better technologies suited for mass storage are in research labs right now, meaning maybe 5 or 10 years til market.

CRTs are not dead yet (-1, Offtopic)

suitti (447395) | more than 10 years ago | (#9979996)

Flat screens are still going to have to get
much cheaper before CRTs go away.

State of the art in memory technology? (1)

Louis Savain (65843) | more than 10 years ago | (#9980002)

a 30G model I recently held in my hand was worth much more than my car

It goes without saying that whoever comes up with a cheap and fast alternative to hard drives will make a killing. Here are some questions. What is the best new candidate for flash memory technology for the foreseeable future? Who is doing avant-garde research on new memory technologies? Does anybody have any idea as to what memory technology will be like in say, five or ten years from now?

G the way of WHAT? (1)

drsmack1 (698392) | more than 10 years ago | (#9980007)

>>Within the decade the spinning hard disk may go the way of the floppy and CRT."

You mean they will be right in front of me? In daily use? I don't understand...

Get a RAM based Drive... (1)

drfishy (634081) | more than 10 years ago | (#9980009)

http://www.cenatek.com/product_rocketdrive.cfm
https://www.hyperos2002.com/07042003/products.htm# hyperosHDIIproduct

Like either of those and you'll be happy... Not bad prices either, considering... Of course we need a PCI-E 16x version of the Rocket Drive and an SATA 300 version of the HyperDrive III...

I'll let go of my CRT... (-1, Offtopic)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 10 years ago | (#9980014)

When they pry it out of my cold dead hands. Or until the prices of flat panels get MUCH cheaper! Whatever happens first.

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